Isles defense drives vehicle tie-up with U.S.

JIJI

The Defense Ministry is thinking of engaging in joint development of amphibious vehicles with the United States so the Ground Self-Defense Force can bolster its defense of remote islands, informed sources said.

The ministry hopes to participate in the U.S. Department of Defense’s work on a new amphibious vehicle to replace the existing AAV-7, used by the U.S. Marine Corps, the sources said.

The ministry thinks joint development could curb future procurement costs for new vehicles, the sources said. It plans to offer the small but high-power engine technology used in the GSDF’s advanced tanks if it joins the U.S. project, the sources said.

For remote island defense, the government plans to start using amphibious vehicles, mainly AAV-7s, under the medium-term defense program for fiscal 2014 to 2018 that was compiled last December.

It will allow 52 of the vehicles to an amphibious unit to be launched at the GSDF’s Ainoura camp at Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture. The ministry spent ¥2.5 billion last year to procure four AAV-7s for trial operations.

Since 30 years have passed since the basic AAV-7 design was born, the Pentagon has decided to develop a successor. The AAV-7 has a maximum speed of 13 kph at sea.

If the U.S. allows Japan to participate in the project, it could result in favorable terms for the U.S. defense industry.

“Joint development would be meaningless if Japan only ends up giving its technology to the United States without being able to reduce development costs,” a senior Defense Ministry official said.